Background: The altered expression of prolactin (PRL) and its receptor (PRLR) has been implicated in breast and other types of cancer. There are few studies that have focused on the analysis of PRL/PRLR in cervical cancer where the development of neoplastic lesions is influenced by the variation of the hormonal status. The aim of this study was to evaluate the expression of PRL/PRLR and the effect of PRL treatment on cell proliferation and apoptosis in cervical cancer cell lines. Results: High expression of multiple PRLR forms and PRLvariants of 60–80 kDa were observed in cervical cancer cell lines compared with non-tumorigenic keratinocytes evaluated by Western blot, immunofluorecence and real time PCR. Treatment with PRL (200 ng/ml) increased cell proliferation in HeLa cells determined by the MTT assay at day 3 and after 1 day a protective effect against etoposide induced apoptosis in HeLa, SiHa and C-33A cervical cancer cell lines analyzed by the TUNEL assay. Conclusions: Our data suggests that PRL/PRLR signaling could act as an important survival factor for cervical cancer. The use of an effective PRL antagonist may provide a better therapeutic intervention in cervical cancer.